All About Japan

Hayabusa2 Returns with Asteroid Samples

| Technology , Kanagawa

Japan’s Hayabusa2 space explorer brought 5.4 grams of substances believed to be from the asteroid Ryugu on a capsule that returned to Earth earlier this month.

Science minister Hagiuda Koichi revealed the amount during his visit to JAXA’s Sagamihara Campus southwest of Tokyo on December 18.

According to the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, "We succeeded in retrieving 5.4 grams, far more than the target of 0.1 gram. I’d like to reemphasize that this is world-class technology."

Researchers found materials that look like black sand in one of the capsule’s three compartments they opened on December 15. The first-generation Hayabusa had brought back from the asteroid Itokawa only a small amount of minute particles that could not be seen with the naked eye. In contrast, the number of samples from Ryugu will enable various analyses and studies.

Scientists have yet to open the remaining two compartments of the capsule.